Differential Binding of IgG and IgA to Mucus of the Female Reproductive Tract

Kelly M. Fahrbach, Olga Malykhina, Daniel J. Stieh, Thomas J. Hope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Cells of the endocervix are responsible for the secretion of mucins, which provide an additional layer of protection to the female reproductive tract (FRT). This barrier is likely fortified with IgA as has previously been shown in the gastrointestinal tract and lungs of mice. Mucus associated IgA can facilitate clearance of bacteria. While a similar function for IgG has been proposed, an association with mucus has not yet been demonstrated. Here we find that IgA and IgG are differentially associated with the different types of mucus of the FRT. We observed that while both IgA and IgG are stably associated with cervical mucus, only IgG is associated with cervicovaginal mucus. These findings reveal that antibodies can bind tightly to mucus, where they can play a significant role in the fortification of the mucus barriers of the FRT. It may be possible to harness this interaction in the development of vaccines designed to protect the FRT mucosal barriers from sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere76176
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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